Writer’s Craft I: How to Write and Sell a Novel

This class helps writers who have the beginnings of a novel or only just the spark of an idea, whose minds are filled with settings, scenes, conflict and characters every waking moment and need a guide or plan before forging ahead into their fictional world.

E. L. Doctorow's famous quote, “Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way," is popular fuel for novel-writing motivation. While it is true that intuition can keep some writers going from start to finish, many others require a map, GPS and road signs to help them along the way. Spontaneously driving off into the dark may seem carefree and creative, but you may not end up where you intended to go. The same thing goes in writing. The class "Outlining the Novel" teaches you how to create and use a quality map showing all the twists and turns and points of interest on your journey to a finished novel.

This self directed online course will guide you from idea to an outline that shows what each chapter should include. We will discuss the overall theme that powers your story, character creation and development, conflict and climax, including back story effectively, exploring setting, choosing the correct point of view(s) and the overall narrative arc. The explanation and exploration of these and other characteristics of the story will allow you to create an outline that works.

In some modules, we will work with a four-stage outline drafted by a best-selling novelist. In others, we will explore how the outline changes and evolves during the developmental process and how this evolution leads to a stronger storyline. We will also focus on additional outline revisions and more technique options available to the planning writer.

Both beginners and more experienced novel writers, left brain and right brain creators and those writing in all literary and commercial genres can find value in this "Outlining the Hubble" course

Anyone who turns past the title page of your book – be they editors, agents, publishers or readers – begin to judge the quality of your book in the first couple of pages. Think back to the last book you read. How many paragraphs did you read before you decided if it was a "put back on the shelf or lend to a friend" book or a "cancel your date and order take-out" book? Putting so much emphasis on the beginning of the book may not seem fair and can lead to incorrect judgments about books that may start slowly but ramp up to a very thrilling experience as page turn.

How much time you give the book to grab your attention – five paragraphs, five pages or five chapters – depends on many factors including your own personal patience levels. If you consider how you judge a book, and get feedback from others about how they decide to stop or read on, you can use this information to think about your own novel and see how effective it is at enticing the reader to continue. Not only is an interesting beginning important to engage readers, but its efficacy speaks directly to the structure and narrative of the rest of the novel's plot. If you have a problem in the first five pages, there is a good chance that the following pages could be affected similarly.

(click on the module heading to reveal a lesson by lesson breakdown)


  • Avoiding Common Errors
  • Verb Tense
  • Quiz 1: Avoiding Common Errors
  • Comparing with Adjectives and Adverbs
  • Analogies
  • Gerunds and Participles
  • Quiz 2: Comparing Correctly
  • Nature of Language
  • Moving and Morphing
  • A Brief History of English
  • Quiz 3: Nature of Language; History of English
  • Review
  • Special Project
  • Test
  • Alternate Test
  • Glossary and Credits

  • Modes and Methods
  • Structures and Features
  • Interpreting Visuals
  • Complex Processes
  • Project: Graphically Organize a Complex Process
  • Project: Evaluating Knowledge of a Complex Process
  • Quiz 1: Reading Exposition
  • Choosing a Topic
  • Project: Proposal, Outline, and Works Cited
  • Finding Sources in the Library
  • Project: Library Hunt
  • Web Sources
  • Documentation
  • Citation Formats
  • Writing Note cards
  • Using Sources
  • Prewriting Strategies
  • Quiz 2: Research and Writing
  • Essay: Complex Process
  • Introduction to Conclusion
  • Language, Voice, and Style
  • Revision and Evaluation
  • Adding Media
  • Presenting
  • Project: Multimedia Presentation
  • Project: Peer Review and Evaluation
  • Project: Final Draft
  • Quiz 3: Write Right
  • Special Project
  • Review
  • Test
  • Alternate Test
  • Glossary and Credits

  • Forming Noun Plurals
  • Understanding Suffixes
  • Adding Suffixes
  • Word Use and Suffixes
  • Quiz 1: Noun Plurals and Suffixes
  • Relative and Interrogative Pronouns
  • Demonstrative and Indefinite Pronouns
  • Personal Pronouns
  • Gender and Case in Pronouns
  • Quiz 2: Pronouns
  • Pronoun/Antecedent Agreement
  • Pronoun Reference
  • Adjective Clauses
  • Adverb Clauses
  • Noun Clauses
  • Quiz 3: Clauses and Pronoun Reference
  • Special Project
  • Review
  • Test
  • Alternate Test
  • Glossary and Credits

  • Principal Parts and Participles
  • Infinitives
  • Gerunds
  • Quiz 1: Verbals
  • Adjective Phrases
  • Adverb Phrases
  • Appositive Phrases and Direct Address
  • Participial and Gerund Phrases
  • Infinitive Phrases
  • Quiz 2: Phrases
  • Constructing Sentences
  • Project: Writing Paragraphs
  • Punctuating Ideas
  • Writing Compositions
  • Quiz 3: English and Writing
  • Special Project
  • Review
  • Test
  • Alternate Test
  • Glossary and Credits

  • What is Mass Media?
  • Types of Mass Media
  • Project: Mass Media and SOAP
  • Interpreting Visual Elements in Mass Media
  • Project: Create, Present, and Evaluate a Poster
  • Quiz 1: Mass Media
  • Agendas in the Media
  • Bias in the Media
  • Methods of Appeal in the Media
  • Fallacies in the Media
  • Reliability of a Media Source
  • Project: Evaluating an Advertisement
  • Project: Comparing and Contrasting Media Coverage
  • Quiz 2: Aspects of Mass Media
  • Review
  • Special Project
  • Test
  • Alternate Test
  • Glossary and Credits

  • What is Persuasion?
  • SOAP and the World of Business
  • Quiz 1: Persuasion and Business
  • Introducing an Argument and Building an Outline
  • Project: Introducing Your Argument
  • Researching an Argument
  • Project: Researching Your Argument
  • Project: Conducting an Interview
  • Writing a Rough Draft
  • Report: Writing Your Rough Draft
  • Project: Revising Your Rough Draft
  • Quiz 2: The Persuasive Proposal
  • The Persuasive Speech
  • Project: Giving Your Persuasive Speech
  • Quiz 3: Speaking Persuasively
  • Special Project
  • Review
  • Test
  • Alternate Test
  • Glossary and Credits

  • Recognizing Main Ideas
  • Advanced Reading Skills
  • Logic and Relationships
  • Exposition: Instructions
  • Essay: How-To
  • Project: Technical Instructions
  • Quiz 1: Reading Instructions
  • Events, Ideas, and Biography
  • Project: Biography
  • Library Skills
  • Project: Catalog Systems
  • Project: Reference Materials
  • Quiz 2: Forms of Exposition; Library Skills
  • Varieties of English
  • American Regional Dialects
  • Standard English
  • Essay: Language and Culture
  • Quiz 3: Varieties of English
  • Selecting and Limiting a Topic
  • Choosing the Language
  • Project: Writing a Speech
  • Quiz 4: Writing and Speaking
  • Special Project
  • Review
  • Test
  • Alternate Test
  • Glossary and Credits

  • Language and Meaning
  • Roots and Affixes
  • Analogies
  • Quiz 1: Language, Roots, and Analogies
  • Capitals and Commas
  • Advanced Mechanics
  • Project: Your Vacation
  • Quiz 2: Writing Right
  • Project: Getting a Job
  • Resumes
  • Resume Planner
  • Effective Cover Letters
  • Project: Resume and Cover Letter
  • Quiz 3: Resumes
  • Special Project
  • Review
  • Test
  • Alternate Test
  • Glossary and Credits


Comments are closed.